The North Carolina Tar Heels would like to inform you that some days, they're going to miss all those shots they take. Those days are going to really suck.
Thirty-seven percent. That was UNC's shooting percentage from the field, and it was the bright point, compared to the 60% shooting from the free throw line or the 22.2% three-point shooting. The Heels didn't hit a three until early in the second half, and this was against a team that had a pretty weak perimeter defense a year ago. Harrison Barnes was one of three players to go 0 for the field on the night – the other two being Justin Watts and Leslie McDonald. The three combined to go 18 for 26 a day earlier; in addition to being well beyond the difference in the game, they;ve doomed us all to another sixteen stories about Barnes' work ethic. He'll be shooting in a gym only slightly less empty than it was for the game well into the night, I presume.
A couple o cold shooting hands wasn't the only thing that did Carolina in, however. There were the sixteen turnovers, most of which seemed to come on silly traveling calls and other such things that an experienced team would avoid. There was also the problems with rebounding. Minnesota's long threes would naturally cause caroming balls UNC couldn't always corral, but the Heels couldn't get their own rebounds either, and when they did they couldn't get the ball into the hoop. The Gophers finished with 44 rebounds to UNC's 39.
This was the first team Carolina played with an impressive inside presence, but Minnesota wasn't content to just bruise the Heels inside. They played to UNC's pace, pushing the ball up the court themselves, and never allowing an easy fast break. It wore on the Heels, and heir inexperience didn't help. The only constant was Tyler Zeller, who looks more awkward by the day, but finished with 7 ugly baskets in 14 attempts, for a team-high 16 points. Barnes and John Henson had 7 and 12 rebounds, but most came on their team's missed shots. (They finished with nine offensive boards between them.)
On the bright side, UNC has kept peace in the Carolina March household, as the girlfriend is a West Virginia native. The downside is a rather ugly loss for the Heels, and a rematch with the Vanderbilt team that picked them apart in a secret scrimmage last season. This is a young team, even younger than last year, so I'm willing to cut them some slack, but it's a bad loss to a Big 10 opponent. Hopefully things will be better when Illinois comes to town.